Chicken Breast with Leeks and Caramelized Lemon Peel Recipe

Chicken Breast with Leeks and Caramelized Lemon Peel

I love the way the sweetness of leeks complements the simply seasoned chicken breasts. It’s an easy 30-minute recipe, perfect for when I need to put a meal together in a short time. The tanginess of the caramelized preserved lemon peel contrasting with the leeks is the secret here. Couscous, rice, or roasted potatoes are a good accompaniment.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes


  • 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter or margarine
  • 4 cups (370 g) leeks, cut into 1/2 inch (1,2 cm) slices, white and light green parts only
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 small preserved lemon, pulp discarded and skin thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar or mild vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 tsp fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, about 6 oz (170 g) each
  • 1/2 cup (30 g) flour for dusting
  • 1/2 cup (65 g) walnuts


Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 5-8 minutes or until leeks soften. Add water by the tablespoons to the leeks so they don’t burn. If necessary, lower the heat.

In the meantime, combine sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until it gets syrupy. Add preserved lemon peel and stir to coat. Cook for 1 minute longer. Add caramelized lemon and remaining syrup to the leeks. Set aside and keep it warm.

In a small bowl create a vinaigrette by mixing vinegar, scallions, dill, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with pepper. Set aside and let flavors mingle.

Preheat oven 200ºF/ 95ºC.

Pat chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season them with salt and pepper. Dust them with flour. Shake off the excess. Heat remaining olive oil and butter over moderately high heat. Cook chicken breasts until they have a nice golden brown crust on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn on the other side and cook for 4 minutes longer depending on the thickness of the breasts. Place chicken on a baking sheet and keep it warm in the oven.

Add walnuts to the saucepan used for cooking the chicken. Scrape all the brown bits on the pan bottom. Swirl walnuts in it and “caramelize” them with the accumulated pan juices. Cook until juices are reduced and thickened a bit.

Arrange leeks on warmed plates and top it with the chicken. Drizzle with some of the vinaigrette and garnish it with walnuts.

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